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Jul 10, 2018
WWD: Fabletics Adds Design Muscle
The El Segundo, Calif.-based brand has made design and marketing hires from Lululemon, Ann Taylor and Victoria’s Secret to elevate product.
Adam Goldenberg, chief executive officer of the e-commerce firm — whose brands include JustFab, JustFab Kids and its newest baby, Rihanna’s Savage x Fenty lingerie line — is focused on beefing up Fabletics’ design ranks with talent from competitor Lululemon. As the fastest-growing brand in the TechStyle stable, Fabletics’ annual sales revenue tops $250 million. The company generates sales of more than $700 million annually and is thought to be on track for an initial public offering.
Among the new Fabletics hires are Karen Pornillos, vice president of design and fashion director, who was formerly the vice president of women’s design at Lululemon and led development of Free People’s activewear line; Nancy Arnold, vice president, creative director who formerly worked at Ann Taylor, where she collaborated with Hudson on a capsule, and Shefali Shah, vice president of merchandising, who was at Victoria’s Secret for a decade. They join senior vice president, chief merchandise and design officer Felix del Toro, who joined the company last year from Lululemon, where he was senior vice president and general manager of its men’s division, and Kristen Dykstra, chief marketing officer, a BCBG Max Azria and Kenneth Cole veteran who joined the company in 2016.
“It’s crazy to think about how fast we’ve grown,” said Goldenberg. “Kate and I talk all the time about how do we continue to evolve the brand and ensure growth rate. How do we serve all of our customers?”
Part of the answer is upping the product quality and assortment, which, at $29.99 per outfit with the brand’s direct-to-consumer membership model, aims to offer near-Lululemon quality at one-third to one-half of the price. Fabletics sells in 10 countries and operates 24 retail stores in the U.S., where prices per piece are slightly higher. The stores tend to open in cities where there is already a high concentration of VIP e-commerce members, with the aim to offer better customer service in the form of physical experience such as “Meet the VIP” events hosted by Hudson.
“We found that these customers buy as much as three times per year when we become omnichannel,” said Goldenberg of layering the brick-and-mortar element. “Because we were Internet before retail it is geographically spread out as opposed to metro-located activewear stores.”
In addition to elevating the product quality with more patterns and color and higher-performance proprietary fabrics, in August Fabletics is upping its newness frequency to once a week versus once a month.
“We are still balancing technology, style and quality but targeting all activities from studio to training and beyond,” said Goldenberg. Tweaks include leggings with pockets, a reengineered sports bra program and more pieces that go beyond working out, often adding third pieces to a workout outfit.
Key to the company’s success is its data-driven approach and proprietary algorithms used to analyze, predict and enhance consumer experience, while streamlining supply chain, optimizing inventory and cutting down on waste.
“We know so much about our members, and we often discuss how to better do lifestyle infused with performance. Women want that functionality and so much of that is what Karen brings to the design aesthetic,” he said. “The value proposition we started with was to bring fashion into activewear and we’re still doing that.”
While the company doesn’t yet have swimwear or kids, followers can just look to Hudson for clues as to what future extensions may be. She’s expecting her third child, a girl, and she lives in Los Angeles by the beach.